“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” -Eddie Cantor
For years, I thought that having a wild night out, a boozy brunch, or getting drunk in a park was the only way to have fun. My days were spent anxiously waiting for the weekends when I could let loose (ie. drink, like, ten drinks and dance ’til dawn).
My life wasn’t always like that. Prior to my college and post-college days, my fun never entailed drinking. Nature has always been my sanctuary and my idea of a great time was going for a hike, camping, backpacking, snowboarding, or really anything outdoors. I had really close friendships and I loved hanging out with my friends and goofing off and talking about our lives. No alcohol involved. It was all real and raw and I had absolutely no desire to muddle that happiness with a drug.
As I got swept up in the party culture, my love for the outdoors and sober interactions quietly slipped away. I traded in reggae music for electronic dance music and an early morning hike for a late night at a club. It was fun for awhile, until I realized that I didn’t really have any solid interests anymore besides drinking, and I was surrounded by people who didn’t know the real me at all.
In the six+ months since I’ve quit drinking, something changed. It’s like my thinking is reverting back to the good old days, before I needed alcohol to have fun and connect with others. Simple pleasures are filling my soul again. I find myself shuddering at the thought of getting wasted and going clubbing.
I’m starting to really, truly accept and want a laid-back life.
Here are six reasons I’d rather chill than party. And by chill I don’t mean just sit in my pjs all day and binge watch Orange is the New Black (although that’s definitely a part of it!). By chill, I mean doing things that soothe my soul and leave me feeling good and replenished.
1. Quality Time with People
When I used to go out and drink with people, I never really got a chance to talk to them or discover what makes them tick. We would bond over our mutual love of IPAs or a certain DJ, but I quickly realized that I didn’t know more than five basic facts about these people.
When alcohol is removed from the equation, people are forced to talk (gasp!) to each other without the comfortable haze of drunkenness. I’m reconnecting with some of my old friends and making new connections and they feel real. There is no hiding and no distractions. At first, it was a bit uncomfortable, but as I relearned how to communicate, I started to develop strong, true bonds that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Now when I see my friends and boyfriend, I genuinely want to catch up with them and hear about their lives. This would not be possible if we were in the middle of a crowded bar with rowdy people spilling drinks down our backs. Being sober has become my new normal. I feel like I’m coming out of the haze and reentering normal life…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2. Life Is Real Again
When I’m hiking on a trail, spending quality time with people I love, eating a delicious meal, or curling up with a blanket and Netflix, that’s real life. In those moments, I’m experiencing real joy and happiness, not something that is artificial and fleeting. In the book This Naked Mind, author Annie Grace explains that over time, alcohol decreases our ability to enjoy normal life events and situations. I noticed this in my own life, and thankfully, I’ve noticed that it’s reversing the longer I go without alcohol. I’m once again able to enjoy simple pleasures and my emotions are 100 percent my own.
3. I Have More Time
I don’t know about you, but it seems like each passing year is flying by faster and faster. When I would spend a lot of my time partying, I also became an expert time traveler. I’d be getting ready to go out one minute, and the next thing I know, it would be the end of the night. Then I’d spend the next day laying around and feeling horrible from the night before. These days, it seems like I have many more hours in a day. When I’m spending time outdoors, with friends, or by myself, I’m present for every single moment and really appreciate each passing hour. Time is precious and I’m now choosing to spend it much more productively and mindfully.
4. I Care About My Health
I was a brunch-turns-to-dinner, pizza-in-the-purse kinda gal in my partying days. When I chose to go out, my normal health consciousness went out the window and it was game on. I’d drink anything and eat anything. The crappier and greasier the better! I’m now in charge of what I put into my body and I (mostly) choose to feed it the good stuff because I respect and care for my soul’s home. It feels good to consciously be able to make healthy decisions, rather than turning into an uncontrollable 2 am Pizza Monster.
Call me a grandma if you wish, but I’m all about a good night’s sleep these days. If I don’t get good sleep, I feel off and the day seems to drag on. I actually don’t know how I functioned on so little, poor-quality sleep back then. Today, I’m very grateful to go to bed and wake up with a clear, rested mind.
6. I’m Ready for a New Lifestyle
I’m ready to fill my life with things that truly set my soul on fire: outdoors, strong relationships, traveling, adventure, good food, meditation, self-care, and exploring. We all go through chapters in our lives and being a wild child was definitely one of mine. But when it comes to partying, I’ve been there and done that. I’m not mad about my party days and I’ve reached a place where I don’t regret them anymore. There were undoubtedly some fun times and, more importantly, some deep life lessons learned, but I’m so ready to embrace a more mindful, laid-back lifestyle.